Magazine Feature

Jeezy Talks Bringing 'the Church to the Streets' With His Music and T.I.'s Hillary Clinton Slip-Up

Jeezy and Kanye
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Jeezy and Kanye west perform at Jeezy presents TM101: 10 Year anniversary concert at The Fox Theatre on July 25, 2015 in Atlanta.

It’s been ten years since Young Jeezy formally introduced himself, and with five respectable studio LP’s plus a handful of street-celebrated mixtapes under his belt, the 38-year-old could be content with his legendary status. Instead, the Snowman’s burrowing even deeper; on Politically Correct, an EP released in early October, he casts his eye towards social justice, while on Church In These Streets -- his sixth LP, due out November 13 on Def Jam -- he aims to be far more than just a thug motivator. He wants to be real leader, too.

The streets and church don’t typically mix, so what kind of role does religion play in your life?

In the south, religion and superstition is like the biggest shit ever. When people get to that place where they feel like they’re lost, the first thing they do is go to church. In the streets right now, a lot of people are lost. They ain’t gonna come to church. So I’m gonna bring the church to the streets.

Right, because when you rap, you’re kind of preaching a gospel, in a way.

You take on the role of a pastor. Not a pastor in the church, but a pastor to the streets. And gospel -- it’s that talk, that folk talk, slave talk, if you will. On Church In These Streets, I wanted to bring it together. I wanted to say okay, this is our gospel, this is our Sunday service, this is our Bible study, this is what we believe in.

Do you actually go to church though?

I do, at times. But I was brought up that way. I saw my grandma get dressed every weekend and go to church on Sunday. I saw when she come back and talk to me about what the preacher said. Some of those things stuck with me; not all of em’, but some. When I was doing this album a lot of those things were coming up.

You just dropped an EP, Politically Correct, too. It’s very introspective.

Everything that you’re hearing [now] is me taking the approach of writing songs like a diary. I have a pad; I’ve never had pad before in my whole life. One of my partners was like: “You’re a poet, you should write in your diary.” I’m like: “I don’t really got time for that shit, maybe I could just try and write my music.” So I’m just sitting there and writing it as if I was writing a letter, because I’m good at writing letters and shit like that.

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Is music too politically-correct now? T.I. just got himself in a jam by saying he wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman.

I think so. When I’m on my ignant shit, I’m just on my ignant shit. [However], I just don’t naturally say things that are gonna put me in a situation that I don’t want to be in. You gotta say things that you want to stand behind. Barack don’t talk crazy, and if he does we’ll never hear it. (Laughs)

Speaking of Barack, back in 2008, you predicted his presidency with “My President is Black.” What do you think of what he's done?

He did alright for a situation that was all the way messed up. I think we’re all gonna have to wait until he’s out of the office to see how much of a difference he made. He got a little less than a year left. He’s gotta turn up, man.

He’s done a lot of that already.

He went and got Bin Laden. That was a plus. He changed healthcare. He brought unemployment down.

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Do you think you’ll make a song for Hillary Clinton?

Will I make a song for Hillary? Nah, I wouldn’t do that. Nah.

So you’re writing in a pad. Wait -- don’t tell me -- you’re reading now, too?

I try to more than I used to. I didn’t really have the time; I’d start on something and I would rush through it. One of my guys out in L.A. sends me books every week. I just see how he kick it, he got his shit together. He’s a real smart dude, got over 2,200 employees. Every time I talk to him we sit down and smoke cigars. He always got some game for me. I ask him where he get all this information from and he says: “Books, man.” A dude who reads a lot, knows everything.

You should start Jeezy's book club.

Yeah man, I’m down.

Listen to Jeezy and other artists featured in this week's issue of Billboard.

A portion of this story originally appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of Billboard.